In processing our family’s upcoming move to a new state, I’ve noticed my seven-year-old daughter is unable to think of all the people she will miss all at once. Instead, she’s been experiencing a slow awareness that highlights one person at a time. It’s sad and painful and sweeps her back to the moment she heard we were moving—when tears dotted the front of her blue GAP t-shirt.
It happened the other night as she was getting out her guitar to practice her latest Taylor Swift song. My child came flying into the kitchen—and this time it wasn’t to stall her practice session. I recognized that pitifully sad look on her face—the one that said the world as she knew it was crumbling a little more.
“I’m not going to have music lessons with Mr. Andrew anymore,” she said her lip quivering slightly. Huge tears formed in her eyes as she mumbled, “There won’t be another one like him, Mama.”
“Andrew’s been your ukulele and guitar teacher since you were itty bitty. He’s one of the kindest, most patient people we know, isn’t he? I am so glad you have all these years with him.” Without thinking, I instinctively opened my arms to my child. She nestled in and fit quite perfectly despite a significant growth spurt this spring.
I studied her smooth, round face and saw two fat tears escape from the corners of her closed eyes. My daughter stood there for a moment pressing her face against my stomach. I just held her in silence, smoothing stray hairs away from her face. I didn’t have any magic words. In fact, I didn’t have any words at all.
Within thirty seconds, my daughter stopped crying. She turned and went back to the living room and picked up her guitar. She began to sing and strum with vigor. I could tell by the passion in her voice that she was going to make the most of her remaining time with Mr. Andrew. She was going to be okay.
And I just stood there taking it all in.
Because in that moment, I felt better about myself than I had in months. And it was due to one simple fact: I bring comfort to my child. In fact, I am pretty darn good at it.
And I bet you are too.
In fact, I would place the ability to comfort in the Judgment-Free Zone of parenting. I doubt many skills fall into that category but the ability to comfort does. It requires no training, no expertise, and no educational degree. It’s just something we parents do, and we have the ability to comfort our child better than anyone else.
Let’s just relish that fact for a moment.
We have the ability to comfort our child better than anyone else.
Finding an area free from judgment and instruction when it comes to raising children is a rarity today. While I’m sure you could find an article about the best way to comfort a child, it wouldn’t be like the wealth of information that exists on the “best” way to feed, discipline, or put your child to sleep, for instance.
Soothing someone you love more than life doesn’t require a manual—it just comes naturally. And lately, the fact that I bring comfort to my children in the midst of a stressful life event like moving is bringing me great peace.
You see, as my readership grows, the more susceptible I am to criticism. And lately I’ve been faulted on everything from choosing to make a living as an author to the way I punctuate my sentences. Honestly, I am relieved to have found a safety zone—a place where I do something that no one can critique—a place no one can even touch. Only I know what contentment looks like when it settles on the faces of my children in their time of fear, worry, and distress.
Each night when I lay beside with my daughters for their respective Talk Time, I study their faces while they tell me their worries. As I listen, nod, hold, and reassure, I see the fear and angst ease from their bodies.
“Just look at that face. Just watch those tears dry,” I think to myself. “Just look at the way she sighs with relief when you say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’”
Suddenly, I am there: in the Judgment-Free Zone. It is my safe place … where I cannot be touched … where haters can’t tread.
I am telling you about this sacred place because of the personal messages you send me—the ones that have pain and guilt and regret etched in every single word. Even if you’re not publishing your daily struggles and past mistakes for the whole world to read, you are still open to criticism on a daily basis. I think we can all agree, it’s pretty easy to find someone eager to tell us we’re messing up our children … we’re doing it all wrong … or there is really a better way. And if those attacks aren’t coming from the outside, they may very well be coming from our inner bully on the inside.
But there is a place where internal and external criticism cannot touch us. And this place is open to you, and it’s open to me:
When your baby cries,
When your child needs you,
When your teen is in distress,
When your adult son or daughter calls you out of the blue …
You open your arms … you listen … you reassure … you show up.
Suddenly, you are there: in the Judgment-Free Zone. It is your safe place … where you cannot be touched … where haters can’t tread.
Look at that face. Look at the peace you bring. You can comfort your child like nobody else’s business. There is no right or wrong way to comfort your child—only you know what is best for him or her.
Let’s relish that fact for a moment.
Only you know the best way to comfort your child. You are the expert. Perhaps you’ve never been called an expert. Well, you are— Comfort Expert to the Rescue. You rescue. You save the day. Your arms are best.
I don’t know about you, but I am going own that—today, tomorrow, and when in doubt.
Just look at that face—the peace, the comfort, the love.
You put it there, my friend.
You put it there.
And no one can take that away from you.
Where is your safe place? Where is the place criticism cannot touch you, my friends of The Hands Free Revolution? Each week I am tremendously grateful for your comments, stories, and words of encouragement to me and to one another. It’s so uplifting when we realize we are not alone in our struggles. Please know that in a time of stress and uncertainty with my family’s move less than a month away, I am finding great comfort in this loving community. Thank you for being here.